Iranian president Hassan Rouhani took a jab at President Obama while emphasizing his commitment to protect Baghdad from Islamic State terrorists.
“When we say the red line we mean the red line,” Rouhani said during an NBC interview. “It means we will not allow Baghdad to be occupied by the terrorists or the religious sites such as Karbala or Najaf be occupied by the terrorists.”
The comment was an apparent allusion to President Obama’s declaration that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people would cross a “red line” for the United States. The president eventually opted not to carry out air strikes against the regime after the attack, favoring a deal under which Assad would hand over his chemical-weapons stockpiles.
That decision prompted criticism that other rogue regimes would take note. “Iran is paying very close attention to what we’re doing,” former defense secretary Leon Panetta, who served under Obama, said. “There’s no question in my mind they’re looking at the situation, and what they are seeing right now is an element of weakness.”